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Bible Study Leader's Guide for "Follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21)

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Bible Study Leader's Guide for:
Day 1 - Matthew 16:13-28 ("Take up your cross and follow Me).
Day 2 - Luke 14:25-35 ("He who has ears to hear, let him hear").
Day 3 - 1 Peter 2:11-25 ("Follow in His steps").

2017 West Coast Chinese Christian Conference.
Author: Erik Lui

Published in: Spiritual
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Bible Study Leader's Guide for "Follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21)

  1. 1. “Follow in His steps” Bible Study Leader’s Guide
  2. 2. 1 Table of Contents Welcome Letter............................................................................................................................... 3 How to use this guide...................................................................................................................... 4 Beginner Level Guide ........................................................................................................... 5 Intermediate Level Guide..................................................................................................... 5 Advance Level Guide............................................................................................................ 5 Top 10 List ............................................................................................................................... 5 Day 1 - Matthew 16:13-28 “Take up your cross and follow Me” .................................................. 6 Beginner Level Guide ........................................................................................................... 6 Ice-breaking Question....................................................................................................... 6 Passage Theme .................................................................................................................. 6 Interpretation Remarks..................................................................................................... 7 Key Discussion Questions.............................................................................................. 7 Discussion Topics / Application Questions ............................................................... 7 Intermediate Level Guide..................................................................................................... 8 Old Testament Reference ................................................................................................ 8 Historical Context .............................................................................................................. 9 Alternative Interpretation............................................................................................... 10 Advance Level Guide.......................................................................................................... 11 Textual Analysis............................................................................................................... 11 Full Question Set.............................................................................................................. 13 Day 2 - Luke 14:25-35 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”................................................. 15 Beginner Level Guide ......................................................................................................... 15 Ice-breaking Question..................................................................................................... 15 Passage Theme ................................................................................................................ 15 Interpretation Remarks................................................................................................... 15 Key Discussion Questions............................................................................................ 16 Discussion Topics / Application Questions ............................................................. 16 Intermediate Level Guide................................................................................................... 18 Old Testament Reference .............................................................................................. 18 Historical Context ............................................................................................................ 19 Alternative Interpretation............................................................................................... 21 Advance Level Guide.......................................................................................................... 22 Textual Analysis............................................................................................................... 22
  3. 3. 2 Full Question Set.............................................................................................................. 24 Day 3 – 1 Peter 2:11- 25 “Follow in His steps”............................................................................ 26 Beginner Level Guide ......................................................................................................... 26 Ice-breaking Question..................................................................................................... 26 Passage Theme ................................................................................................................ 26 Interpretation Remarks................................................................................................... 26 Key Discussion Questions............................................................................................ 27 Discussion Topics / Application Questions ............................................................. 27 Intermediate Level Guide................................................................................................... 28 Old Testament Reference .............................................................................................. 28 Historical Context ............................................................................................................ 28 Advance Level Guide.......................................................................................................... 31 Textual Analysis............................................................................................................... 31 Full Question Set.............................................................................................................. 34
  4. 4. 3 Welcome Letter Dear Bible Study Leader, Thank you for your willingness to serve as a Bible Study Leader (BSL) at the 2017 West Coast Chinese Christian Conference. This year’s theme is “Follow in His steps.” As a BSL, you will help facilitate the group discussions around the Scriptures to help each conferee reflect on this theme. Being a disciple of Jesus is a lifelong walk, and only through love and faith can reach the destination In Day 1, you and your group will read and discuss Matthew 16:13-28. There are common misconceptions regarding what it means to be a Christian, especially in western Christianity as the comfortable life had overtaken our lives and make us diminish, or even erased the “suffering for Christ” part of our faith. However, as Jesus said, denying oneself and carrying the cross is the basic steps in following. Echoed in Paul’s writing, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), and since the church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) she must stand against all falsehood, unrighteousness, and ungodliness, such action will result in persecution. In Day 2, you and your group will read and discuss Luke 14:25-35. Here, Jesus again challenges his follower whether they are truly ready to be his disciples. This passage is an echo of the great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jesus further challenges whether those who follow him are doing so out of loving God or loving themselves. The modern comfortable society plus the way the gospel was “sold” to people often made us forget that the heart of the gospel message is not about us, but it is about God, his justice, and his love. If we turn our attention from God to us, we will turn churches into a self-serving religious institute that is no better than the corrupted priests at Jesus time, making us useless in God’s plan. In Day 3, you and your group will read and discuss 1 Peter 2:11- 25. Here, Peter urges his audiences to be aliens and strangers so that they can set their eye on eternity. With that mindset, a Christian will be ready to do what is right despite suffering. In this case, they are following in Christ’s steps, who also suffer for doing righteousness. In His service, Bible Study Coordinator Erik Lui, erikl@wcccc.org
  5. 5. 4 How to use this guide Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel.” As a BSL, the starting point is to set our heart to study the Scriptures. Before we can lead others, we need to be the first student. Read and re-read the text for each Bible study several times. Take advantage of online resources to read the text in a couple of different translations. Understanding Scriptures begins with observing what is there and asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions of the verses. Proceed to interpret the meaning of the key ideas in the passage. Finally, identify a few application points. Applications call for changes within us. It could be changed in behaviors but it could also be a change in attitude or in our value system. One valuable process in helping us to observe, interpret, and apply the Bible is to do a textual analysis. This approach helps us see the relationship of the ideas in the passage. This guide has a textual analysis of the Bible studies for each day. However, we strongly encourage you to attempt to do one on your own. From the textual analysis, you can develop questions for your group. With your questions, you help your group members to understand the passage and to facilitate sharing of personal perspectives on what is being studied. In this guide, there are sample question sets. Again, we strongly encourage you to prepare your own. You will want to mark time points on the question set so that you can cover the material in the allotted time. You will also want to mark certain questions as ones you want to spend more time on as they dwell upon key verses in the passages. We have also indicated the question types with O (observation), I (interpretation), and A (application). We have included study notes to provide background material and information about parts of the passages that may need some additional explanation. Finally, use the techniques of group dynamics to direct the discussion and encourage participation. A thorough question set will have more questions than what will likely be used. It serves as a roadmap to working through the key points of the text as you lead your group. For Bible study leaders with a different level of skills, this guide has three different levels: the Beginner Level for new bible study leaders who need a guide to understand the passage; the Intermediate Level for more experienced Bible study leader who is ready to make use of the historical and literal context to lead an insightful Bible study; the Advanced Level is for Bible study leaders who have experience with studying the bible and want to discover the passages himself/herself.
  6. 6. 5 Beginner Level Guide The beginner level guide aims to provide an easy to understand guide for new bible study leaders who are not familiar with summarizing the theme of the text. Although the guide gave summary of the text, please try to read and prepare the passage and try your best to understand the advanced level guide Intermediate Level Guide The Intermediate level guide aims to fill in more information regarding the passage, including Old Testament references and background information so that a bible study leader can lead the group into a deeper discussion regarding the passage. To understand the intermediate level guide, please look at the beginner level guide first. Advance Level Guide The advanced level guide aims to encourage Bible study leaders to discover the theme of the text and potential discussion topic for the passage themselves. If you have any trouble understanding the idea in the advanced level guide, please look at the beginner level guide and intermediate level guide first. Top 10 List 1. Pray for the Spirit to give you a humble heart and thoughtful mind as you prepare and lead. 2. Observe what is in the text by reading the text … carefully. 3. Thou shalt do a textual analysis of the passage. (Please see the textual analysis in Advanced Level Guide for reference) 4. Interpret the Biblical material in light of its context. 5. Read the Bible passage again. 6. Prepare questions for the group that needs more than a “yes” or “no” answer. 7. Save the application until the group has a good understanding of the theme of the passage. 8. Use the tools of group dynamics to keep the group on track. 9. Did we say you should read the Bible passage again yet? 10. Stick to the text and pray that the Spirit speaks to the group through the text.
  7. 7. 6 Day 1 - Matthew 16:13-28 “Take up your cross and follow Me” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. How did you become a Christian? (ask before studying) 2. What are the requirements of following Jesus? Passage Theme The church is built upon the loving relationship between men and God, which cannot be overpowered by the power of death because the disciples of Jesus will willingly give their life for God Please read Matthew 16:13-28 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. Peter's Confession (vv. 13-20): a. Jesus question his disciples how do people say about who the Son of Man is and how the disciples say about him while they are in Caesarea Philippi (vv. 13-16) b. Jesus reveals that Peter’s understanding does not come from his father’s teaching, but from God, who reveals this because of the relationship between Peter and God, and the church which builds on a loving relationship between God and men cannot be overpowered by the power of death (gate of Hades) (vv. 18) c. The church is given the authority and mission to represent God on earth and to invite people to follow Jesus (keys of the kingdom of heaven) (vv. 19) d. Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone he is the Messiah 2. Cost of discipleship (vv. 21-28): a. Jesus explains what messiah really means to the disciple, result in being rebuked by Peter. Jesus rebuke Peter in return for Peter is not setting his mind on God's interests, but man's (vv. 21-23) b. Jesus declares the requirement of following him was to have the willingness to give up his life for Jesus, (vv. 24-27) c. Jesus declares that some of his disciples will see Jesus coming in his Kingdom (vv. 28)
  8. 8. 7 Interpretation Remarks 1. Simon barjona (vv.17) is direct translation from Aramaic, it means “Simon, son of Jonah” 2. Jesus using different name to call Peter signify a change in relationship, the name Simon, given by Peter’s father, represents Peter’s relationship with his father, while the name Peter, given by Jesus, represents Peter’s relationship with God, hence the mentioning Jesus calls Peter as Simon before saying Peter’s understanding is from God, while calling him Peter after that. For it is the relationship with God that grants him that knowledge. Thus “upon this rock I will build My church” does not mean the church is going to be built upon Peter, but what the name Peter represents, the relationship between man and God. 3. Kingdom of heaven is not a location, but a condition where people are living under the authority of God 4. Keys of the kingdom of heaven can be seen as things that grant people access to the kingdom of heaven (live under the authority of God) which can simply mean ministry that makes disciples of Jesus 5. Base on the interpretation above, the bind and loose on earth and in heaven would simply mean those who are disciples of Jesus on earth will be recognized as a disciple of Jesus in Heaven. 6. The word soul in verse 26 can also be translated as life Key Discussion Questions 1. Who revealed the identity of Jesus to Peter? Why would he reveal this to Peter? 2. What is the Rock the Church built upon? Why does that make the power of death not able to overpower the church? 3. Why doesn’t Peter want Jesus to go to His death? 4. According to Jesus, what is the basic requirement to be His disciple? 5. Between the cross and gaining the whole world, which one does the disciples prefer? Discussion Topics / Application Questions There are some topics the group can discuss: 1. What crosses are you carrying today?
  9. 9. 8 Intermediate Level Guide Old Testament Reference Numbers 14 When Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25), it is possible that Jesus was referencing the story of the twelve spies in Numbers. In Numbers 14, after hearing the report from ten of the twelve spies, the Israelites afraid of dying when entering the Promised Land and want to return to Egypt. (Numbers 14:1- 4) Therefore, God announcement his punishment toward the rebellious people by not allowing a whole generation to enter the Promised Land until all of the people of that generation die out. (Numbers 14:27-35) On the contrary, Caleb and Joshua risk their life to convince the people of Israel, (Numbers 14:10) and ends up being the only people of that generation to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:30). Putting into the context of the Exodus story, the Israelites who refuse to enter the Promised Land are on one hand reasonable for refusing to enter the land as it is normal for a person to fear death. However, on the other hand, these people are the same people who have seen the ten plagues, crossed the red sea, and seen the provision of the Lord along with their journey to the land. If the Lord is sending them to their death with gladness, the Lord will not even bother to spend so much effort to take them out of Egypt at the first place. Therefore, the fear of the Israelites is not reasonable in this sense. There is always a tension between setting one’s mind on God's interest versus setting one’s mind on man’s interest. But according to the story of twelve spies and Jesus’ word, one should always put following God’s command above his concern for his safety. Daniel 7 In verse 28, Jesus mentioned that “are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” It is easy to conclude that at least one of the disciples may still be alive until this day, which clearly is not possible. The key to understanding this mystery is Jesus using the term “Son of Man”, which comes from Daniel 7: “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His
  10. 10. 9 dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14) The passage strongly emphasizes the “Son of Man” was given an everlasting authority of all the earth, which we quickly see it happens at the end of Matthew when Jesus declares “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Therefore “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” does not have to understand as something that would happen when Jesus returns, but can be understood as the time when Jesus was given the authority. The only reason why Jesus said some of his disciples will see it before their death was because Judas was dead by the time Jesus made that announcement. Historical Context Caesarea Philippi Caesarea Philippi was a Greek city built by Herod Phillip to honor Cesar, hence the name. It is to the north of Galilee, close to Dan and Mount Hermon. Caesarea Philippi has a great temple built to worship a Greek god named Pan, a half goat half human god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music. The temple was built on a giant rock with a cave where water from Mount Hermon would flow out of that cave, but the water flow had stopped due to an earthquake by Jesus time. The reason why Jesus mentioned the church will be built on a rock, was to make a comparison between the Pan temple and the church: while the rock of the Pan temple can be overcome by an earthquake, the church built upon the rock, which is the loving relationship between man and God, will not be overcome by the power of death. The mention of Caesarea Philippi also warns the readers of the possibility of worshipping Jesus as if he is an idol. This is made clear when Jesus said Peter was not setting his mind on God's interests, but man's. An idol worshipper is one who set his mind on his own interest, therefore will not be willing to suffer or even die for God, but a true follower of Jesus will gladly give his life, even lose it if necessary for the sake of God. Base on this conclusion, it is clear that all who attempt to minimize the cost of following Jesus is preaching idol worshipping. Christ and Kingdom of Heaven By the time of Jesus, the Jewish people come to a theological conclusion that the exile had never really ended as the Jewish people are still under foreign authority, and for one to truly worship God, one must be free from any authority, based on the understanding of Exodus. From that theology, there comes two main movement.
  11. 11. 10 The first movement group, we will call it the zealot movement, sees the problem of the Jewish people being under a Roman dictatorship was a problem in itself, therefore encourages military rebellion against the Romans. In this movement group, Christ was seen as a great military leader who will lead the Jewish people to victory against all foreign authority. The second movement group, we will call it the Jesus movement, spearheaded by Jesus and John the Baptist identify the foreign authority occupation as a punishment from God for the sin of the Jewish people, therefore the way to be free from these authorities was to repent and live a godly before God. This movement criticized the hypocrisy in the religious system. Where people would fulfill all religious regulation but does not actually obey God. As a slogan of this movement, “Kingdom of Heaven”/”Kingdom of God” emphasize on living obediently under the authority of God. In this movement group, Christ was not only a king but also a prophet and a Bible teacher who will teach the people the correct understanding of the Bible (Jesus call this to be “fulfilling the law and the prophets”). In light of the tension between these two movements, Peter’s response shows that he agrees more with the first group at that time, thus his attempt to stop Jesus from going to his death. Alternative Interpretation In Matthew 16:26, a certain English translation would translate “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”, as to emphasize the importance of one’s soul. But this would make the verse very odd as the idea of the soul was not mentioned elsewhere in the context. The word for soul (ψυχὴν) here was the same word for life in verse 25. If we keep the consistency and translate the word “soul” in verse 26 to be “life”, it would make a clear comparison of Jesus > a person’s life > gains the whole world.
  12. 12. 11 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • Now when o Jesus ▪ came into • the district of Caesarea Philippi, ▪ He was asking His disciples, • "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" o And they ▪ said, • "Some say o John the Baptist; • and others, o Elijah; • but still others, o Jeremiah, o or one of the prophets." o He ▪ said to them, • "But who do you say that I am?" o Simon Peter ▪ answered, • "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." o And Jesus ▪ said to him, • "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, o because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, o but My Father who is in heaven. • I also say to you that you are Peter, o and upon this rock I will build My church; ▪ and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. • I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; o and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, o and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." o Then He ▪ warned the disciples
  13. 13. 12 • that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. • From that time o Jesus ▪ began to show His disciples • that He must o go to Jerusalem, o and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, o and be killed, o and be raised up on the third day. o Peter ▪ took Him aside ▪ and began to rebuke Him, saying, • "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." o But He ▪ turned ▪ and said to Peter, • "Get behind Me, Satan! • You are a stumbling block to Me; o for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, o but man's." o Then Jesus ▪ said to His disciples, • "If anyone wishes to come after Me, o he must deny himself, o and take up his cross o and follow Me. • For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; o but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. • For what will it profit a man o if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? o Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? • For the Son of Man is going to o come in the glory of His Father with His angels, o and will then repay every man according to his deeds. • "Truly I say to you, o there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
  14. 14. 13 Full Question Set • Where were Jesus and his disciples? (O) o What is special about this location? (I) • What is the first thing Jesus does when Jesus came to that location? (O) o Why did Jesus ask the disciple how others see him? (I) ▪ Was this answer correct? Why or why not? (I) o How did the disciples see Jesus? (O) ▪ What is Christ? (O/I) • Why did Jesus announce Peter is blessed? (O) o What is the other name of Peter? (O) ▪ What does “barjona” means? (I) o Where does Peter get his understanding of who Jesus is? (O) ▪ Who gives Peter the name “Simon”? (O/I) ▪ Who gives Peter the name “Peter”? (O/I) ▪ If these names represent a relationship, what is the rock the church is building upon? (I) o What is the gate of Hades? (I) ▪ Why can’t the gate of Hades overcome the church? o What are the keys of Kingdom of Heaven? (I) ▪ What is the Kingdom of Heaven? (I) ▪ How can one enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? (I) ▪ What does it mean to be bound and loosed on earth? (I) • Why did Jesus prohibit his disciples to tell people that he is Christ? (I) o If people have a wrong idea of what Christ is and is told that Jesus is Christ, what could happen? (I) • What is the meaning and the mission of Christ according to Jesus? (O) o Why did Peter rebuke Jesus for Jesus’ explanation of the meaning of Christ? (I) • Why did Jesus call Peter Satan (O/I) o What is the meaning of Satan? (O) o How was Peter a stumbling block to Jesus? (O) o What are God’s interests in the text? (O) o What are man’s interests in the text? (O) • What are the requirements Jesus sets for all who wishes to come after him? (O) o Why did Jesus set up these requirements? (O) ▪ What have we suffered for the sake of Christ since we believed? (A) ▪ Why is there such a big difference between the requirement set by Jesus and the requirement for being a Christian nowadays? (A)
  15. 15. 14 o Why did for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it? (I) o Why did whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake will find it? (I) o Were there any Old Testament story that has a similar theme? (I) • Compare to a person’s life and gaining the world, which one is more important according to Jesus? (O) o What is more important than a person’s life according to Jesus? (O) o What is the most important in our life? Pleasing God? Preserving our own life? Gaining the whole world? Why or why not? (A) • When is the time the Son of Man come in the glory of His Father with His angels? (I) o On what basis is the Son of Man going to make his judgment (O/I) o What are the deeds that would please the Son of Man? (A) • When is the time the Son of Man coming in His kingdom? (I)
  16. 16. 15 Day 2 - Luke 14:25-35 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. What is most important thing in being a Christian? 2. What drives you to become, and continue to be a Christian? Passage Theme A Disciple of Jesus is one who is willing to give his heart, his life and his possession for the sake of following Jesus. Because of this high cost, one should not take this decision lightly. However, such allegiant to Jesus is what makes Christian stand out from all idol worshiper. Please read Luke 14:25-35 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. Jesus is followed by a large, then Jesus challenges them in a sudden (vv. 25): a. Jesus demands his disciples to love him more than anyone that is close to them. (vv. 26) b. Jesus demands his disciples to be ready and willing to give up their life for him. (vv. 27) c. Jesus asks all who wish to follow him to think carefully before committing to following him, lest they would not be able to follow Jesus to the end. (vv. 28-32) d. Jesus demands his disciples to be ready and willing to give up their possession for him (vv. 33) e. The reason for salt to be useful because of its saltiness. Similarly what makes Christians useful to the Lord, being able to witness the Lord, is because of their complete devotion and allegiance to the Lord. Therefore if a self-proclaim Christian does not have this their complete devotion and allegiance to the Lord, he is useless and will be thrown out. (vv. 34-35) Interpretation Remarks 1. Although not clear at first sight, the three challenges Jesus had for his follower actually reflect the first of the Great Commandment, which states that: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  17. 17. 16 2. Jesus demands his disciples to love him more than anyone that is close to him (vv. 26) reflects loving the Lord with all your heart. 3. Although certain translation says, “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life”, it is clear that Jesus does not encourage us to hate those who are close to us. Jesus is demanding a love for him that makes the closest human relationship looks like hate in comparison. 4. Jesus demands his disciples to be ready and willing to give up their life for him (vv. 27) reflects loving the Lord with all your soul, where the word soul can also be translated as life, both in Hebrew and Greek. 5. Jesus demands his disciples to be ready and willing to give up their possession for him (vv. 33) reflects loving the Lord with all your might, where the meaning for “might” was understood as “possession” by the Rabbis at Jesus time. 6. The key to understanding the passage regarding saltiness (vv. 34-35) is to see that the usefulness of salt comes from its uniqueness of having saltiness, therefore if the salt lost its uniqueness, it will be useless. In a similar way, if Christian lost its uniqueness, it will be useless to the Lord. Key Discussion Questions 1. Why did Jesus say that one cannot be his disciple unless he “hates his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life”? 2. What did Jesus mean when He said that someone must “carry his own cross and come after Jesus”? 3. Why does Jesus emphasize that someone has to give up all his possessions in order to become a disciple of Jesus? 4. Why are there “Christians” who give up midway? Why are they not able to finish building their tower? Why were they unable to win the war? 5. What is the “saltiness” of a Christian? What happens when a Christian loses this “saltiness”? 6. Which aspects in your life have you not fully given to Jesus? Discussion Topics / Application Questions There are some topics the group can discuss: 1. What drives you to become and continue to be a Christian? What can you do to love the Lord with all you heart, life, and strength? 2. What should you do to maintain your commitment in Jesus as the highest priority in your life?
  18. 18. 17 3. Do you think you have “saltiness” in yourself? What can cause you to lose your “saltiness”? What can you do to increase/regain your “saltiness”?
  19. 19. 18 Intermediate Level Guide Old Testament Reference Deuteronomy 6 Jesus set out the three requirements to be his disciples: “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life”, “carry his own cross and come after Me”, and “give up all his own possessions.” These three requirements was a reference back to Deuteronomy 6:4-9: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. This passage is known as the Shema in Judaism, a passage that Jews will recite day and night even until this day. The Jewish people see the reciting of the Shema prayer as a declaration of allegiance to the Lord, and to take upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. As for Christian, Deuteronomy 6:5 is seen as one of the Great Commandment. When Jesus demands his disciples to love him more than his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he is explaining the “love the Lord your God with all your heart”. To ancient Jews and people in near east as well, the heart was not just an organ to pump blood, but the center for emotion and logic. Therefore to love the Lord with all one’s heart is not only an emotional choice but also a conscious logical choice. In the new testament, because the greeks, the main audience of the new testament gospel, believes that the heart is for emotion while the brain was for logic, when the Great commandment is repeated in the New Testament, “with all your heart” was split into “with all your heart” and “with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30). When Jesus demands his disciples to carry their own crosses and come after Him, he is explaining “love the Lord your God with all your soul”. The word translated to be a soul in here is ‫ׁש‬ֶ‫פ‬ָ֫‫נ‬ in Hebrew, and the more accurate translation should be “life”, “living being”. Following Jesus is not like a fairy tale where things go happily thereafter, time
  20. 20. 19 and again in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, countless people had lost their lives, became a martyr because of their faithfulness to God. Which would lead us to an interesting question, as Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”, why aren’t the churches in North America being persecuted? When Jesus demands his disciples to give up all their own possessions, he is explaining “love the Lord your God with all your might”, which the word “might” is hard to be translated as its literal translation would mean “muchness”. Rabbis at Jesus time also debate on the exact meaning of this word, but most of them agree that this word points to one’s own possessions. Such demand from Jesus appears again when the rich young ruler came to Jesus for eternal life in Luke 18:18-30. In here, Jesus gave a further explanation on what to do with those possessions that are given up, give them to the poor. In fact, giving to the poor was a major topic in the Old Testament commandments where God, through Moses, deliberately said that, “therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'” Which would lead us to an interesting question, why are there multibillion churches in the US, while tens and thousands of brothers and sisters in the Lord dying around the world because of poverty? The last reference to the Shema was when Jesus ends his teaching with “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Which is a clear reference to Deuteronomy 6:4 where it is said, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!”, a statement that calls Israel, and the people of God in general, to come and obey the Lord. And the action of obedience, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”. Historical Context The tower and the battle In the middle of the passage, Jesus uses two parables to warn those who accompany him to think twice before they follow him, lest they cannot complete the tower or win the battle. It is very strange why Jesus would pick these two subject when there are billions more down to earth metaphor can be used. However, the history can shed some light to why Jesus used these two metaphors. The tower in Jesus’ parable is possibly pointing at the temple in Jerusalem. The temple in Jesus time was built by Herod the Great, which is upgraded from the small temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah when the Israelites return from exile. As an appointed king of the Jew by the Roman Empire, Herod the Great had done many things to ensure the Jewish people will accept his rule, which included proposing to upgrade the existing
  21. 21. 20 temple in Jerusalem. This new and upgraded temple (including the 1600 feet length, 900 feet wide, and 9 stories high platform that was built under the temple itself) was the greatest building that was ever built in the first century, people from all around the Roman Empire would travel years to come and see the temple itself. The temple took 46 years to complete according to Gospel of John, and more modification is added even after Jesus’ ascension. If the building is still standing today, it will be twice the height of the Dome of Rock that is currently standing in Jerusalem. Although the building was finished physically by the time Jesus visit it during his final week, the temple was never finished in terms of its purpose, the Ark of the Covenant was never in the Holy of Holies, nor was God present in the temple. To make matters worse, the temple became the robber den of the priests, through which they can gain money by corruption. Thus as declared by Jesus, the temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. The battle in Jesus’ parable is possibly pointing at the First Jewish–Roman War between 66 A.D and 73 A.D. As mentioned in the Historical Context section in Day 1, the Zealot movement and the Jesus movement was two competing theology among the Jewish people. By 66 A.D. the Zealot movement became dominant and sparked the war when a certain Greek merchant house sacrificing birds in front of a local synagogue. The Jewish uprising quickly spread, but it is an uphill battle for the Jews from day one as the Jewish revolt does not have a common leadership, nor did the Jewish people had the training and equipment that is comparable to the Romans. Jerusalem was captured by the Romans in 70A.D, Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege of Jerusalem. A sizeable portion of these was at Jewish hands and due to illnesses brought about by hunger. 97,000 were captured and enslaved and many others fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Jesus using the tower and the battle as a metaphor, not only was to remind his followers to think twice before they follow him but when looking back through these historical events, he also to warn them to set their goal right. For if they do not set their goal right, they will eventually build a building that cannot be complete and fights a battle that is going to lose, which really happened in history. The salt of the earth The purpose of salt was to season food, in a similar fashion, the people of God was called to influence the world so that the world can turn back to God. This is evident when God called Israel on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:4-6: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all
  22. 22. 21 the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The purpose of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, which is a vessel where God is going to use to lead the nations to the Lord, Peter later attributes these roles to the Gentile Christian in 1 Peter, indicating their participation in God’s mission given to the Israel. However, by Jesus time, many Israelites turn away from the Lord due to false teachings. As a result, they also turned away from their mission, instead of influencing the world and showing the glory of the Lord to the nations, the religious system became corrupted and lead people away from the Lord, making them took God’s calling for granted and became arrogant towards the nations. They lost their saltiness of being God’s people and unable to influence the world. This leads us to an interesting question: why can’t the church seem to be able to influence society, especially in North America? Alternative Interpretation In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus was using salt as a parable to talk about the “usefulness” of people to the Lord, it is possible that Jesus deliberately picking salt as his subject was a rebuke against the Essenes, who lives hide themselves in caves close to the dead sea (hence the salt reference). Despite knowing the corruption of the priests in Jerusalem, they did not do anything against the corrupted system but hide in caves. Such action made them useless in God’s plan.
  23. 23. 22 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • Now o large crowds ▪ were going along with Him; o and He ▪ turned and said to them, • "If anyone comes to Me, o and does not hate ▪ his own father ▪ and mother ▪ and wife ▪ and children ▪ and brothers ▪ and sisters, ▪ yes, and even his own life, o he cannot be My disciple. • Whoever o does not carry his own cross and come after Me o cannot be My disciple. • For which one of you, o when he wants to build a tower, ▪ does not • first sit down • and calculate the cost • to see if he has enough to complete it? • Otherwise, o when he ▪ has laid a foundation ▪ and is not able to finish, o all who observe it ▪ begin to ridicule him, saying, • 'This man o began to build o and was not able to finish.' • Or what king, o when he sets out to meet another king in battle, o will not
  24. 24. 23 ▪ first sit down ▪ and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? • Or else, o while the other ▪ is still far away, o he ▪ sends a delegation ▪ and asks for terms of peace. • So then, none of you o can be My disciple o who does not give up all his own possessions. • "Therefore, o salt is good; o but if even salt has become tasteless, ▪ with what will it be seasoned? ▪ It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; ▪ it is thrown out. • He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
  25. 25. 24 Full Question Set • Where is Jesus going? (O) o Who is accompanying Jesus? (O) • What did Jesus say to the crowd(O) o How many things did Jesus say to the crowd? (O) o According to Jesus, What kind of people cannot be his disciples (O) ▪ Why would Jesus said one cannot be his disciple unless he “loves Jesus more than/hates his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life”? (I) • What is wrong to love Jesus less than loving those people?(I) • Who is the most important person in your life? (A) o Can you love Jesus more than loving that person?(A) ▪ Why would Jesus said one cannot be his disciple unless he “carries his own cross and comes after Jesus”? (I) • What does carrying the cross and following Jesus means?(I) o How does this relate to where Jesus is going?(I) • What is wrong with not willing to carry the cross?(I) ▪ What does the parable of building the tower means?(I) • If building a tower point at following Jesus, what would a “completed tower” be like?(I) • What are necessary to “complete the tower”?(I/A) o What can cause us not able to finish the building? (A) o Why are there “Christian” giving up mid-way? (A) ▪ What does the parable of battle means?(I) • If the battle point at following Jesus, what does it mean to “win the battle”?(I) • What is needed to “win the battle”? (I/A) o What can cause them not able win the war? (A) o Why are there “Christian” giving up mid-way? (A) ▪ Why would Jesus said one cannot be his disciple unless he gives up all his own possessions?(I) • What is wrong with not willing to give up his own possessions?(I) • To whom should these possessions be given to? (I/A) ▪ What kind of people can be the disciples of Jesus?(I) • According to the passage, what can a person gain from becoming a disciple of Jesus?(O/I) • Why would a person want to be a disciple of Jesus?(I)
  26. 26. 25 • What would drive them to remain a true disciple of Jesus?(I/A) ▪ What is the function of salt?(O/I) • What makes salt to function as salt? (O/I) • What will happen when salt lost their saltiness? (O) • What is the saltiness of a Christian? (I) • What will happen when a Christian lost his “Saltiness”? (I) • What can a Christian do to avoid losing his “saltiness”? (A)
  27. 27. 26 Day 3 – 1 Peter 2:11- 25 “Follow in His steps” Beginner Level Guide Ice-breaking Question 1. How should Christians live in this world? 2. What is the reason of Christian suffering? Passage Theme As a disciple of Jesus, a Christian will abstain from fleshly lusts and willing to put the righteousness of God above their own desire. However, in an unrighteous world, Christian will suffer for doing what is right. But doing so, a Christian is following in the steps of Jesus Christ, who also suffer for doing what is right. Please read 1 Peter 2:11- 25 The logic of the passage goes as follows: 1. Since Christians are aliens and strangers to this world, therefore they should behavior excellent among the non-believer. (vv. 11-12) 2. Although Christians are aliens and strangers to this world, as a citizen, a Christian should respect authority and do what is right for the sake of the Lord. For having freedom in the Lord does not mean a freedom in doing evil. (vv. 13- 17) 3. As a servant, a Christian should respect and obey his master, even when the master is unreasonable, for God find favor in people who suffer for the sake of doing what is right, and Christians are called, for this reason, to be like Christ (vv. 18-21) 4. Christ had committed no evil but suffered for doing what is right, which is to save us from our sins(vv. 21-25) Interpretation Remarks 1. This passage is often misunderstood as a passage consists of random topics as the topics do not seem to be related. But if the rest of 1 Peter, starting from 2:11, is seen as the suggested application to 1 Peter 2:9-10, then the various topic will make a lot of sense. 2. 1 Peter 2:9 is a quote from Exodus 19:4-6 where God gave the Israelites their mission as God’s people, which is to represent God in the world and to bring the world to God. By quoting this passage, Peter declares that Jesus’ work had allowed the Gentiles to participate in God’s people and their mission. With that in
  28. 28. 27 mind, the rest of 1 Peter, starting from 2:11, is Peter’s advice for these gentile Christian on how to represent God and bring the world to God. 3. By being aliens and strangers, a person will not attach themselves to the gain or lost in this world but set their eye on the world to come. This understanding will be an important component to the "suffering for what is right" argument at the end of the passage. 4. Becoming part of God’s people does not make a person abstain from everything in the world, thus Peter urges his audience to be the moral, righteous, law- abiding citizens and submissive servants. 5. Being a law-abiding citizen who respects authority or submissive servant to unreasonable master are not end in themselves, as Peter stressed that the reason for doing so is to do what is right, which is repeated three times between verse 13-20. 6. Peter quoting Isaiah 53 was not an attempt explain how we are saved through Jesus’ suffering, but to explain how and why Jesus suffer for doing what is right. Key Discussion Questions 1. How should Christians see themselves in this world? What should they do in response to this view? 2. How should Christians treat governmental authority in the world? Why should they do so? 3. How should Christians, who are servants, treat their master(s)? Why should they do so? 4. According to this passage, why is a person called to be a Christian? How do we follow in Christ’s steps? 5. What was Jesus’ response when He faced unjust opposition? Why would He do so? What did Jesus do that led to this suffering? 6. What do you need to do in order to follow the steps of Jesus? Discussion Topics / Application Questions There are some topics the group can discuss: 1. What are the right things to do that would lead to suffering in these days? Are you doing it? How can you do it? 2. What are your responses to these sufferings? What are the right ways to respond to suffering?
  29. 29. 28 Intermediate Level Guide Old Testament Reference Isaiah 53 Isaiah 53 is not a standalone passage about Jesus, the servant of the Lord had appeared multiple times throughout Isaiah with 53 as the climax of the work of the servant. The servant of the Lord was first introduced in Isaiah 42. Isaiah 42:1-9 established that the mission of the servant of the Lord was to bring forth justice to the nations, establish justice in the earth through his teaching. The servant of the Lord appears again in Isaiah 49 where the servant announces his mission is to restore Israel, make them a light to the nations so the salvation can reach to the end of the earth. This is a reference to Exodus 19:4-6 and Deuteronomy 4 where the Lord gave Israel the mission to lead the nations to the Lord by demonstrating their uniqueness through keeping the righteous and wise law given by the Lord. In Isaiah 51, the servant of the Lord reaffirms his mission to bring justice through his teaching, and this justice will be the light of the peoples. However, the servant of the Lord goes on to warn all who follow the justice of God that they will face reproach and revilings from men. This all leads up to Isaiah 53 where it starts with saying “Who has believed our message?” which indicates there are only a few people believe in what the servant of the Lord teaches. And the Lord, through the servant, Jesus, take upon himself to bore the suffering and the sorrow result from the human sin. The reason Peter quote Isaiah 53 not only is to remind Christians, who had died to sin and live to righteousness, that their mission, as people who follow the steps of Christ, is to teach the world justice by teaching the word of God to the world, but also warn us that, like Christ, we will suffer just as he did. But in all this suffering, we are participating in Jesus’ world transforming act. Historical Context Death of Jesus from a historical view It is no doubt that the reason goes to the cross was because he is taking upon himself to bear the consequences of sin so that the world can be free from the power of evil. As Jesus said in the gospel of John, he has full control over the time when he goes to the cross. However, there is also the external reason, other than the theological reason,
  30. 30. 29 that leads to Jesus nailed to the cross. After all, if Jesus is loved by everyone, no one will want to kill him. Throughout the four gospels, there are various occasion where Jesus was confronting religious leaders on various topics, from biblical interpretation, traditions, and their corruption. While disagreeing on biblical interpretation is common during Jesus’ time, there are few that are willing to confront the corrupted religious system at that time, with cleansing the temple as his most radical act. The best people at Jesus’ time who are against the religious system, besides Jesus, are the Essenes who decided to hide away in the caves near the Dead Sea. When Jesus cleanses the temple, he is not doing it for the sake of getting attention, but to accuse the corruption of the Religious system, controlled by the Priest, most notable is the control over the exchange rate and the price of sacrificial animal in the temple mount, gaining a lot of money for themselves, making the temple a literal robber’s den. In fact, it is the cleansing the temple act that directly leads to Jesus’ death on the cross, as the Sanhedrin, who sentenced Jesus to death and hand him over to Pontius Pilate, is mostly controlled by priests. And the priests are not only religious leaders of the Jewish people but also the social-political leaders, as they are the people through whom the Roman Empire controls Judea. On top of that, the temple of Jerusalem is the core of the Jewish people, which not only in a religious sense, but also in a social-political sense. Thus, cleansing the temple is not just a religious act, but also a social-political act which is equal to protesting at Capitol Hill or Tian An Men Square. Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Heaven At the early stage of Christianity, when the Christian movement was still closely connected to Judaism, a legal religion registered in the Roman Empire, Christianity did not face much oppression and persecution from the Roman Empire. But by the time close to the death of Paul and Peter, the Roman Empire started to realize the difference between Christianity and Judaism. While both Judaism and Christianity claim that there is a messiah who is going to be king of the world, Christianity actually claims that this Messiah had already come and already establish his power over the heavens and the earth, which is a big threat to the Roman Empire. While the Roman Empire struggles to maintain peace and unity in its multi-ethnic empire through armed force, the Christian has no problem gathering people of different backgrounds together to worship Jesus whom they call their Lord and savior who brings the good news and salvation. To the Roman Empire, the word “Lord”, “Savior”, “Good News”, and “Salvation” are the terms that are used only for Cesar, who is seen as a god of the Roman Empire.
  31. 31. 30 Besides that, as an Empire that built on social hierarchy, Biblical teaching such as equality, helping the poor, mercy and love towards one another are threats to the social hierarchy of the Roman Empire. And for these reasons, the Roman Empire started persecuting Christians from 65 AD, all the way until 311 AD when Christianity became a legal religion in the Roman Empire. Although these were the bloodiest years of the Church, it was also the years where Christianity was purest as there could be no hypocrisy in the church during this period due to the cost to pay as a Christian.
  32. 32. 31 Advance Level Guide Textual Analysis • Beloved, I urge you o as aliens o and strangers ▪ to abstain from • fleshly lusts o which wage war ▪ against the soul. o Keep your behavior excellent ▪ among the Gentiles, • so that in the thing in which ▪ they slander you as evildoers, ▪ they • may because of your good deeds, o as they observe them, • glorify God o in the day of visitation. o Submit yourselves ▪ for the Lord's sake ▪ to every human institution, • whether to o a king as the one in authority, o or to governors as sent by him ▪ for the punishment of evildoers ▪ and the praise of those who do right. ▪ For such is the will of God that • by doing right o you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. ▪ Act as free men, • and do not o use your freedom as a covering for evil, • but use it as bondslaves of God. ▪ Honor all people, ▪ love the brotherhood, ▪ fear God, ▪ honor the king. o Servants,
  33. 33. 32 ▪ be submissive to your masters • with all respect, • not only to those o who are ▪ good ▪ and gentle, • but also to those o who are unreasonable. ▪ For this finds favor, • if for the sake of conscience • toward God o a person ▪ bears up under sorrows ▪ when suffering unjustly. • For what credit is there if, o when you ▪ sin and are harshly treated, ▪ you endure it with patience? o But if when you ▪ do what is right ▪ and suffer for it you patiently endure it, ▪ this finds favor with God. • For you o have been called ▪ for this purpose, o since Christ ▪ also suffered for you, ▪ leaving you an example for you • to follow in His steps, ▪ who committed no sin, ▪ nor was any deceit found in His mouth; ▪ and while being reviled, • He did not revile in return; ▪ while suffering, • He uttered no threats, ▪ but kept entrusting • Himself o to Him who judges righteously; ▪ and He Himself • bore our sins
  34. 34. 33 o in His body o on the cross, • so that we might o die to sin o and live to righteousness; ▪ for by His wounds • you were healed. o For you ▪ were continually straying • like sheep, ▪ but now you • have returned to o the Shepherd o and Guardian of your souls.
  35. 35. 34 Full Question Set • What did Peter urge his audience to be? (O) o How should Christian see themselves in this world?(O) ▪ What should they do in response to this view? (O/I) • If Christians are to abstain from flesh lust, what should they focus on? (I) ▪ How should Christians behave? (O) • Why should Christians behave in such a way?(I) • What are the things we are doing now causes unbeliever to glorify God?(A) • How should Christian treat authority of the world?(O) o What are the kind of authorities Christians should submit to?(O) ▪ Why should they do so?(O) o Does freedom in Christ gives us the freedom to do evil? (O) ▪ Does freedom in Christ gives us the freedom to break the law? (O/I) ▪ Does freedom in Christ gives us the freedom to not follow corrupted and evil human authority? (I/A) • How should Christian who are servants treat their masters?(O) o How should Christian who are servants treat their masters who are harsh and unreasonable? (O) o Why should they do so?(O) o What does the Lord find favors in?(O) ▪ Why does suffering for doing what is right favorable to God?(I) ▪ What are the right things we do that would lead to suffering in these days? (A) ▪ Have you ever suffered for doing what is right?(A) • What is the purpose for a person to be called to be a Christian?(O/I) o In what way should we follow in Christ’s steps?(O/I) o What did Jesus do when facing those who treat him unjustly? (O) ▪ Why would he do so?(O/I) ▪ What did Jesus do lead to his this suffering?(I) ▪ Why did Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross?(O/I) • What does it mean to die to sin?(I/A) • What does it mean to live to righteousness?(I/A) o What can we do to follow the steps of Jesus?(A)

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